Leah Barkoukis

Dr. Shakil Afridi, who was arrested by Pakistan’s spy agency for helping Americans identify Osama bin Laden’s compound, may get out of his 33-year prison sentence early. Via Fox News:

Pakistan is preparing a proposal to swap the doctor who helped the CIA pinpoint Usama bin Laden for a notorious female neuroscientist and suspected Al Qaeda operative being held at a federal prison in Texas, FoxNews.com has learned.

The exchange would involve Dr. Shakil Afridi, the pro-America doctor whose vaccination ruse helped establish the terror kingpin’s presence in an Abbottabad compound prior to the Navy SEAL raid that killed him, and Dr. Aafia Siddiqui. Siddiqui is a U.S.-trained neurosurgeon who left Massachusetts after 9/11 and resurfaced in Afghanistan where she was arrested for trying to kill U.S. soldiers.

State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrall told Fox News that no deal is in the works, although he did confirm Pakistan’s desire to get Siddiqui extradited.

“The government of Pakistan requested her transfer to Pakistan in 2010,” Ventrell said. “However we are not aware of a recent request from Pakistan to discuss her case, nor the case of Afridi.”

A Pakistani Interior Ministry official who requested anonymity told FoxNews.com the prisoner exchange is still being drafted. The official said it would take at least a month before the newly formed task force constituted by Pakistan’s Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan can finalize an agreement to present to the Obama administration and discuss the terms of a deal.

Though a formal extradition agreement between Pakistan and U.S. does not exist, former Pakistani President Pervaiz Musharraf has been accused of secretly handing over several alleged terrorists during his nine-year term.

Afridi has been severely tortured in Pakistan’s prison and the U.S. it seems has done little in the way of securing his release even though the doctor put his life on the line to help us. After he was jailed the U.S.’s response was to symbolically withdraw $33 million of aid from the country—$1 million for each year of his sentence (to put that number in perspective, consider the fact that the U.S. provided a total of $4.3 billion in aid for Pakistan in FY2010). There’s no doubt the terms of a potential deal will be difficult to reach, but here’s to hoping the U.S. does something to get Afridi released—a man who said he did it out of love for America and would help our country again.



Leah Barkoukis

Leah Barkoukis is the Managing Editor at Townhall Magazine.

Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography